Taking Back the New Year

The days of 2006 are winding down, and that can only mean one thing: No, it's not time to reflect on the year that was; it is time to question why the hell we celebrate the passing of a specific day on a manufactured calendar. We (err... humans) designed it, just like we named the days of the week and put numbers to each hour of the day, and moved the clock an hour ahead in the spring and back an hour in the fall -- at least for many in the Northern hemisphere.

So why the big deal? Why did the advent of the Gregorian Calendar elect to showcase January 1st as the near year (note: even though the calendar was decreed by the Pope in 1582, it took until 1752 for England to recognized January 1st as the first day of the year). What's the significance? And beyond that, why must that be the day we choose to celebrate the passing of time?

Why not celebrate the passing of a year on April 12th or the 9th of June? Instead, we pick the dreary days of mid-winter (again, Northerners, I'm talking to you) to recognize en masse what would normally just be the passing of night into day (really it's just night into "more night for a few more hours"), something quite commonplace. It can't be that we need something to celebrate, as the entire quasi-Christian world has just celebrated the birth of their saviour in the last month.

I suppose the concept of having a time of forced reflection is the real mind-boggler for me. I understand that it's important to learn from our own past and to take stock of what's going on or gone on in our lives, but why is it important that we all do it together, in the open, or even at predetermined intervals? Frankly, my memory is so bad these days that leaving the formal life-reflection to the end of the year is likely to minimize the memories and concentrate them on the events of the last month or two.

Resolutions for personal betterment are nothing more than bowing to societal pressures that constantly instruct us that a) we are slovenly, addicted, inferior beings and b) we need to take up the call to personal betterment, and what better time than on January 1st? I don't think I need to go into the utility and success of the New Year's Resolution to illustrate just how futile these promises to ourself can be. Resolutions are personal, and when you feel you need to take action in your life, go right ahead and do it. Don't wait until the last square on your wall-calendar to do it.

It's time to take back the New Year*.

Seemingly random, publicized and heavily marketed celebrations (I'm looking at you, Valentine's Day) have no business (har) continuing to wreak havoc on the general population who feels coerced into mindlessly taking part in celebrations they have no real interest in or respect for. Concerts in public squares, apples/balls dropping in New York, or fireworks over the harbour are for those who have bought into the idea that conformity is natural and good, and fear ridicule should they choose to abstain.

But this is your life.

This year (y'know, whenever), take some time to think about the good things, the bad things, the big things and the small things that have happened or are happening to you and those around you. Take a few moments to reflect on how your life is being shaped by the events and the people around you, and appreciate your own personal evolution. Don't feel compelled to do it in an open forum or while others are doing the same. In short, and to borrow a phrase from the age of computing: reflect early, reflect often. Measure it out however you like: J. Alfred Prufrock's coffee spoons worked just fine.

January 1st is coming. But you don't have to be part of the hype and insanity. Let this "New Year" be what you want it to be. Don't let it be what everyone tells you it should be.

*Full Title: Take Back the New Year (From Those Morons Who Trump it Up As Something Unique).

Posted bythemikestand at 9:10 AM  

5 stepped up to the mike:

SRH said... 11:40 AM, December 28, 2006  

If I remember my useless history correctly, and oft times I do not. The celebration of the new year used to be a 5 day long clebration. The Romans set up a system of 12 30-day months for a calendar year of 360 days, but knew that it takes 365 days for a full trip around the sun. So they made a 5 day celebration time betwee the "old year" and the "new year."

Emporers startted naming months after themselves and adding days to those months until those 5 days were eaten up and 2 days were stolen from February.

I am not sure why the new year celebration occurred in the winter, except that most agrarian people have less to do in the middle of winter. So why not get schnockered, and celebrate the returning of better weather.

canadian sadie said... 2:04 PM, December 28, 2006  

{hic} I'm all for that, srh! {hic}

Happy 'nother day off work to you all!

Dustin said... 3:44 PM, December 28, 2006  

But without an arbitrary New Year, how else will we condone the consumption of copious amounts of booze??? Without New Year's we're just...alcoholics. Don't take my justification away from me, it's the only thing that the moonshine hasn't stripped me of. (silent weeping)

cronznet said... 10:35 AM, December 29, 2006  

I recently reflected on the fact that my life has several New Year's, and no resolutions made on Dec. 31 or Jan.1. Next calendar year I'll be celebratin the New Year of Weight Loss in August, The New Year of Shamanism in October, and the boring everyone's New Year in December. Why drink too much on just one day of the year?

jenB said... 4:10 AM, January 06, 2007  

You could all celebrate my birthday instead. i'm just sayin'.

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